Indigestion is a persistent or recurring discomfort in the upper part of the abdomen. It is also known as dyspepsia and is sometimes a symptom of health conditions like ulcers, gallbladder diseases, and GERD. Poor eating habits and digestive disease rank among the main triggers of dyspepsia.
Indigestion is a common issue that affects 1 in 4 people in the US. This report from the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) shows that 30% of the general population suffers from this disorder.
Indigestion is linked to symptoms like the feeling of fullness after normal-sized meals, pain in the abdomen, and belching. These symptoms may be experienced daily or occasionally.
Categories of Indigestion
Indigestion is categorized based on the severity of the symptoms that are experienced. Mild indigestion, which usually stops on its own after a couple of hours, is associated with symptoms like farting, belching, and feeling bloated. Be sure to consult your doctor if the discomfort lingers for more than two weeks.
Indigestion is regarded as severe when it is associated with symptoms like extreme fatigue, repeated vomiting, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
Symptoms of Indigestion
Below are some of the common symptoms of indigestion:
- Extreme fullness after eating a normal-sized meal
- Gnawing sensation in the upper abdomen
- Excessive belching
- Stomach pain
- Burning sensation in the esophagus
- Growling stomach
The above symptoms may go away on their own after a while. Make sure to consult your doctor immediately if you experience any of these severe symptoms of indigestion:
- Black stool
- Weight loss
- Difficulty swallowing
- Vomiting (particularly if containing blood)
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Diagnosis of Indigestion
To ascertain if you have indigestion, your doctor will check your medical history and carry out any of the following:
This test is done to find the root cause of your indigestion. Your doctor will recommend this test if you are above 55 or experience any of the following issues:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding in the digestive tract
During the test, a specialized tool will be passed through your esophagus into your stomach. The device will be used to closely inspect the lining of the stomach and collect tiny samples of tissue. These will be examined to deduce the condition causing the problem.
A medical professional will do the following – During a physical exam:
- Close examination of the abdomen to check for bloating, tenderness, and lumps
- Use a stethoscope to listen to what is happening inside your stomach
- Check for yellowing in your skin and eyes
Here, imaging tests (like ultrasounds, CT scans, and X-rays) are used to determine the disease or issue causing your indigestion.
A blood sample will be taken to the lab and tested to see if you have a helicobacter pylori infection.
How to Treat Indigestion
There are two distinct ways to treat indigestion: medication and lifestyle changes. The severity of your case will determine what your doctor recommends.
For mild symptoms, your doctor may ask you to do the following:
- Eat slowly and mindfully
- Don’t go to bed shortly after eating (wait at least 3 hours)
- Wear comfortable clothes (avoid tight-fitting or uncomfortable articles)
- Limit your intake of or avoid altogether food that can trigger indigestion, like chocolate and fried foods
- Increase your water intake
- Quit smoking
- Elevate your head while sleeping
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce your meal size
- Reduce your intake of caffeinated beverages and alcoholic drinks
If your case is severe, your doctor may recommend the following medications to help quell symptoms and provide relief:
- Antacids: These are over-the-counter drugs that neutralize the acid in the stomach.
- Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs): PPIs help reduce the amount of stomach acid secreted by the glands in the stomach lining.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics will be prescribed if your indigestion is caused by a peptic ulcer, an issue that is linked to helicobacter pylori infections.
How to Manage Indigestion
Below are some remedies that can help manage indigestion:
- Baking soda
- Licorice root
- Peppermint tea
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon water
- Fennel seed
Consult your doctor before trying any of these remedies.
- What health conditions can cause indigestion? One will experience indigestion frequently if they have conditions like ulcers, thyroid disease, a stomach infection, GERD, and gastroparesis.
- How do I know that my indigestion is severe? If your indigestion is severe, you may experience these symptoms: blood in stool, intense stomach pain, frequent vomiting, weight loss, and difficulty swallowing.
Healthier Me Today is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment, always consult with your healthcare professional. Stay healthy!